Friday, December 3, 2010

Nations Can't Run Like This

When WikiLeaks released the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs, it was justified in doing so because these were two wars that had created enormous public outrage. But the release of secret American Cables can never be justified.

Countries need a level of privacy and secrecy to work on their foreign policy: this is a fact. No country can reach substantial results with foreign powers if they have to continuously manage public agony, which is seldom based on the patient logic that diplomats use. Diplomacy cannot be subject to the whims of a loud public, it must be quiet and must take place behind closed doors. Of course, the final outcome of diplomacy must always be subject to public scrutiny, but the process itself cannot be held hostage to it.

True, the leaked cables are damning of the role America played in many parts of the world, including South Asia. But what surprised me was the way in which newspapers expressed their surprise! These were rather obvious things in the cables, things that anybody could put together with some thinking! For instance, we all know that Sarkozy is "monarch-like," so why are we so surprised when a US Diplomat says so too? Or that Zardari and Kayani don't see eye to eye: don't we already know that? A persistent study of International affairs will given you most of what these Diplomats think.

But the problem is that American diplomacy has been hurt badly. Now, sources will go mum and nobody will trust anybody. Just think if Indian diplomats had to face this (yes, the MEA has it's own, private e-mail system too), it would hurt our interests severely. Similarly, American diplomacy has also taken a huge beating.

WikiLeaks has probably crossed the line with Cablegate, as it's being called. Now, we'll have to see what other tricks Julian Assange has left in his bag.

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